President Trump has sent a proposal to cut $15 billion in previously approved spending as a way to control increasing budget deficits. The strategy bypasses the normal appropriations process and is coming under fire from members of Maine's Congressional delegation.
The proposal, which uses a strategy known as the rescission process, uses a little-known section of the budget law that allows a president to propose eliminating funding from programs that have has yet to spend it all. The proposed cuts would go directly to the floor for a vote, bypassing the normal budget process.
Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is a Democrat who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
“There is a $5 billion cut to children’s health care in there, that just doesn’t even pass the straight face test," Pingree says. "That we are going to give a tax break to some of the wealthiest people in the country, and then we are going to take $5 billion back from children’s health care. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
She says there are also proposed cuts to disaster assistance which she calls "ridiculous."
“I would certainly hope the Senate will stop it if we can’t because there are a lot of cuts in there that would hurt Maine,” Pingree says.
Republican Senator Susan Collins, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says she opposes the process that President Trump is using.
“I view the administration package as advisory. I think it would be better to incorporate it into the regular appropriations process,” Collins says.
Collins says the appropriations committees regularly review unspent balances as part of their work. She doubts the Senate will even consider the rescission bill and will use the normal appropriations process to program budgets.
If approved by Congress, the cuts would represent a tiny fraction of total government spending this year.